The Pilates Foundation is coming of age. It is 20 years since PYM Director Anne-Marie Zulkahari, Hana Jones, and Trevor Blount hatched a plan around Anne-Marie’s kitchen table to form an organisation that would protect the rights of Pilates teachers in the UK and prevent American Sean Gallagher from suing them for using the Pilates name as he had begun to with certain established Pilates studios in the States.
Having resolved to establish the Pilates Foundation the dynamic trio invited Alan Herdman – who some 20 years earlier has brought the Method to the UK – to Chair its first Board, and Dreas Reineke – one of Alan’s first trainees – to be vice-Chair. Though they shared a common vision, the three founders came from quite different backgrounds: Anne-Marie had studied in the States with Robert Fitzgerald and Fran Lehen (both of whom had been pupils of Corolla Trier); Hana studied first with Gordon Thomson (Alan’s 2nd trainee) and then went on to research the origins of the work; Trevor studied with Alan Herdman and Anne-Marie.
Their diverse experiences encouraged a strong feeling that all Pilates Foundation members be able to maintain their own style and continue to grow organically as Pilates teachers as they over time deepened their understanding. They particularly wanted the training studios to be able to maintain their individual approach to delivering the Pilates Method, something that was reflected in the first training syllabus.
At the first AGM the then Board members were successfully granted the first European collective trademark for the name ‘Pilates’. To achieve this the studios in existence at that time who had joined the Pilates Foundation contributed significant sums towards the legal costs. The first members’ membership fees also went towards this cost – so those original members are referred to as the “Founding Members” of the organisation.
Fast forward 20 years and on Sunday 8 May two of those founding members – Anne-Marie Zulkahari and Hana Jones – spoke at the organisation’s latest AGM in central London. They reminded their audience of the words used on the original Pilates Foundation logo: “promote, develop, maintain quality and excellence” and of their vision: to support teachers to maintain the integrity of the origins of the whole body of Joseph Pilates’ work – meaning both the apparatus and the mat work. Zulkahari and Jones explained that as more and more training companies began to appear around the country running short course, fast track mat work training programmes, they felt under pressure to start a Pilates Foundation mat work course to try and offer serious candidates a more in-depth mat work training.
“We feel it is important to emphasise that if our mat work members want to grow and develop their skills as teachers of the Pilates Method the most effective way to do that is to take regular classes in a fully equipped studio with an experienced teacher and then eventually consider training to teach the apparatus work as well. This way they will be able to experience the impact of the whole range of Joe’s work and its wide ranging applications to individual needs, conditions, ages and stages. They will also learn the integral relationship between the apparatus and the mat work exercises and (possibly the most important point to emphasise) that the mat work is only one small part of his work, and not the easiest part at that.